DreadOut is a third-person survival horror game being developed by Indonesian studio Digital Happiness. It's a modern take on Fatal Frame with an Indonesian horror mythology flare. The first Fatal Frame (Project Zero in Europe and Zero in Japan) was released in 2001 for PlayStation 2 and eventually Xbox, and is widely regarded as one of the best survival horror games of all time. Its main mechanic is using a camera to photograph ghosts in order to destroy them. DreadOut uses this same mechanic, but with more modern devices, such as a smartphone.
You do not have to love Fatal Frame in order to enjoy DreadOut, you just need to want a true survival horror experience. If you have enjoyed the last three Resident Evil games (not counting spin-offs) more than the original three, then walk away now – DreadOut eschews action for tense, atmospheric horror. There's no running and gunning here, and while there is a Sprint ability, you'll more than likely be cautiously moving along, praying that nothing scares the crap out of you around the next corner.
DreadOut takes place in an "authentic local Indonesian setting" where a group of high school students on vacation stumbled upon a deserted town. This being a survival horror game, said town is unsurprisingly haunted. You control one of the Asian schoolgirls named Linda, with the aforementioned smartphone at your disposal, along with a digital camera and digital video camera, according to the game's description. You can see the smartphone in the video below, which is footage from the demo. While the demo is a healthy 500-600MB, depending on your platform (PC, Mac, or Linux), I really urge you to try it out. Nothing I say can fully illustrate the atmosphere and tension you feel while playing it. Lighting is very sparse in the demo and the audio is superbly done, providing a perfectly eerie feel. I do strongly advise that you hit ESC after starting the game to view the Tutorial, which is simply a static screen that explains the key game elements, such as blurred, colored screen borders under certain situations.
While the demo is short, Digital Happiness promises a "thrilling storyline full of twists," varying gameplay elements, and several authentic Indonesian ghosts to encounter. While the main storyline will be linear, there will also be "options to further explore the world and solve the mysteries within" through optional side quests. There will also be Facebook integration that allows you to share photos you've collected, if you so choose. But don't worry, there's no always-on requirement – the game is DRM-free.
If you like what you see, there is currently an Indiegogo campaign with 22 days remaining (as Digital Happiness is an Indonesian studio, Kickstarter is not available). A minimum of $15 nets you a digital copy of the game upon its release, while additional contributions provide you various extras, both physical and digital. While DreadOut is certainly not for everybody, I could not resist choosing it as this week's Spotlight. If AAA developers are going to abandon pure survival horror (we'll see what The Enemy Within brings), at least indie developers are willing to step up to the challenge!